The Festival of Diwali

Posted November 19, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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Last Saturday, our neighbor sent an email to surrounding neighbors letting us know that his family would be celebrating the first night of Diwali, the festival of lights. They graciously invited us to come and enjoy their fireworks display. When we arrived, the entrance to their home was decorated with bright white lights. Neighbors stood, socially distanced, at the end of their driveway and watched as fireworks lit up the sky. It was an unexpected treat.

Not being familiar with the festival of Diwali, I did a little research. It happens to be India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. It’s a festival of lights that lasts for five days and is celebrated by the Hindu faith and others. The name comes from the clay lamps Indians use to light the outside of their homes. The lights celebrate the power of good over evil. Each day involves special tasks. Food, fireworks, dressing up in their finest clothes, colored sand, and special lights and candles are all a part of the festival.

Of course, there is much more to learn about Diwali, but I’ll leave that up to you. Here are a few books to introduce young readers to this joyful celebration.

Binny’s Diwali written by Thrity Umrigar and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani, Scholastic Press, 2020.

Diwali: The Magical Diyas written by Anitha Rathod, Independently Published, 2019.

Baby’s First Diwali DK Children Board Book, 2019

Thank You for Your Service!

Posted November 12, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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I realize yesterday was Veterans Day, but we can never thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they’ve made for our country.

Remembering my dad who served in the Army Air Corps as First Lieutenant, navigating B-29 bombers, and was a member of the 505th Bombardment Group that was based on Tinian Island.

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”- – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Halloween – Change of Plans

Posted November 5, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

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Each year, our granddaughters come to our house to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood. This year, there was a change of plans due to COVID-19. Instead of trick-or-treating, we decided to go on a Halloween Hunt in our yard. With a list of clues and hidden treat bags, disappointment quickly changed to smiles and laughter.

Some sample clues. 

FACE THE HOUSE.

LOOK RIGHT.

GO TO THE FIRST BIG ROCK.

COUNT THREE MORE BIG ROCKS.

LOOK FOR A WITCH HAT.

PICK UP YOUR TREAT.

WE’RE GOING ON A HALLOWEEN HUNT!

READ THE NEXT CLUE.

TWEET LIKE A BIRD.

GO TO THE BIRDBATH IN THE BACKYARD.

 LOOK FOR THE GOURD.

PICK UP YOUR TREAT.

 WE’RE GOING ON A HALLOWEEN HUNT!

READ THE NEXT CLUE.

Distributor of the clues and treats in the snowy yard.

The Halloween Hunt Crew

LAST CLUE:

GO TO THE FRONT DOOR OF MIMI AND POPPY’S HOUSE.

RING THE DOORBELL.

SAY,

“TRICK-OR-TREAT!”

YOUR CHEESY MUMMY DINNER IS WAITING FOR YOU!

Dinner menu:  Mummy Hot Dogs, Mac and Cheese, Beastly Beans, Ghostly Treats

Pumpkin Gallery

Halloween jokes and trivia were part of our dinner conversation. Before the girls went to bed, we turned off  the lights. With glow sticks in hand, the girls danced their wild Halloween dance!

Halloween Success!

Double Your Pleasure with These Picture Books

Posted October 29, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Nonfiction Picture Books

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Today, I have two books written about the same subject.

Both tell a true story.

Both have similar titles.

Julie Abery tells the story in perfect rhyming verse.

Alayne Kay Christian tells the story in lovely lyrical prose.

The story:  One day, an old man named João finds an oil-covered penguin as he’s walking along a Brazilian beach. He knows if he doesn’t help the penguin, the penguin will die. João carefully cleans the oil from the penguin, who he names Dindim. João helps Dindim regain his strength by feeding him fish. They swim together and walk along the beach together. A bond of friendship grows, but João knows that Dindim belongs in his own habitat. He takes Dindim out into the ocean and lets him go to where he belongs. Surprisingly, Dindim finds his way back to João’s house and returns at the same time each year to visit his friend.

Each book tells of a lasting friendship between João and Dindim. Each book will touch readers’ hearts. Both have illustrations that depict an ocean setting that is soft and colorful. With themes of compassion and a lasting friendship, these books are worth having on your bookshelf.

The Old Man and the Penguin: A True Story of Friendship written by Julie Abery and illustrated by Pierre Pratt, Kids Can Press, October 2020.

An Old Man and His Penguin: How Dindim Made João Pereira de Souza an Honorary Penguin written by Alayne Kay Christian and illustrated by Milanka Reardon, Blue Whale Press, August 2020.

For the Love of Autumn

Posted October 22, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

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“As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colors enough to paint the beautiful things I see.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

“How beautifully leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days!” ~ John Burroughs

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ~ L. M. Montgomery

PB Review: WE WILL ROCK OUR CLASSMATES

Posted October 15, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

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We Will Rock Our Classmates

Penelope T. rex tends to stand out in a group. Penelope is a dinosaur. Her classmates only see her as a dinosaur, but Penelope is much more than that. She loves all sorts of things, but most of all she loves to play rock ‘n’ roll music on her guitar. Penelope signs up for the school talent show, but she’s nervous. At rehearsal, Penelope freezes and thinks maybe dinosaurs can’t play rock ‘n’ roll. She crosses her name off the list and is resigned to being just a dinosaur. Daddy T. rex steps in and shows Penelope pictures of all the accomplishments by her family and encourages her “to be anything you want to be.” The next day at school, Penelope almost loses her courage to sign up again until a few of her friends ask if they can be in her band. On the night of the talent show, Penelope is as nervous as ever, but she remembers what Daddy T. rex told her and she becomes a rock star. We Will Rock Our Classmates is written and illustrated by the talented Ryan T. Higgins who also wrote the hysterical We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. His newest book doesn’t disappoint. Clever lines referring to dinosaurs and amusing illustrations will keep kids and adults laughing with each page turn.     

PB Review: SOAKED!

Posted October 8, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

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Soaked!

It’s raining and Bear and his friends are not happy. Bear, a bit of a grump, finds nothing is fun in the rain. He and his friends retreat to Bear’s cave, but Hula-Hooping Moose is taking up too much room playing with his hula- hoop. Back outside in the rain, Bear wants his umbrella, but it’s missing so he grumps on his log. All the while, Hula-Hooping Moose entertains himself with his hula hoop until it lands in the branches of a tree. Bear, Badger, and Rabbit manage to build an animal tower to retrieve it, but they topple to the ground with the hula hoop. The friends encourage Bear to give it a try. He is surprised how much fun hula-hooping, splashing in rain puddles, and getting Soaked! with his friends can be. When the rain stops, what do you think happens? You’ll have to read this hilarious book written and illustrated by Abi Cushman. It’s sure to put a smile on your face.

Behind the Scene Superheroes

Posted October 1, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

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In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, each day is a challenge for numerous reasons. As a retired educator and grandparent to three active girls, I worry about the education of our young children.

How often have we heard that too much screen time is not healthy for our children? Quality versus quantity does make a difference, but how much should a five-year-old be exposed to the screen in a remote school versus an in-school learning situation? What about socialization?

Parents have a huge job – working, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, and creating a healthy family environment. With the arrival of the pandemic, a new job has been added to the family dynamics – teaching. Along came the need for remote learning workspaces, guidance to keep young children on task, and help with completing assigned work. Because of social distancing on buses, some parents now have to get their kids to and from school on in-school days.

At-home Projects
Workspaces
Lunches
Backpacks and Masks
Drop Off/Pick Up

I’ve seen my daughter and son-in-law stressed not only with work but also by the new rules for my twin granddaughters’ kindergarten in the hybrid learning situation. I’ve seen my youngest granddaughter thrilled to go back to preschool only to have it closed until further notice because a teacher was exposed to COVID-19. I’ve seen the endless emails that pop up daily that parents must read and follow.

My twin granddaughters are in two different kindergarten classrooms. That means double emails Other parents with children in different schools have different rules and different starting times. The list is endless. It takes a superhero to handle it all!

Our superheroes are parents, extended family, and teachers who have families of their own to deal with. I want to applaud all those who strive to help children to be the best they can be – especially during this pandemic. All is not well with the world right now, but with hope, our superheroes will make the world a better place for our children!

Postscript:

Please don’t ask me how my granddaughters and I fared on the first day of remote learning. I think I flunked kindergarten!

Be gone COVID-19! Let the school doors open and stay open – full time.

PB Review: Swashby and the Sea

Posted September 24, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

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Swashby and the Sea

Captain Swashby and the sea have always been best friends. When Swashby retires, it is in a small house on a small beach by the sea. It is quiet and serene just as Swashby likes it. When a young girl and her granny move in next door, Swashby’s world is disrupted, and he is not one bit happy. He writes messages in the sand to discourage the girl and her granny, “which the sea fiddled with, just a bit.” Instead, the new message left by the sea encourages the young girl to sing, to make a wish, and to play. That disgruntles Swashby even more. But when the young girl finds herself in trouble, Swashby is the first one there to save her. There is no way for him to stop the thank yous, the hugs, and the celebration by the sea given by the young girl and her granny. With a little fiddling by the sea, Swashby becomes a true friend and neighbor. Beth Ferry has written a charming story of intergenerational friendship with delightful seaside illustrations by Caldecott Honor winner, Juana Martinez-Neal.

A Race to the Finish Line

Posted September 17, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

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As of September tenth, my summer blog break ended with a review of Janet Halfmann’s A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch! The week before that I popped in early with a review of Artie Bennett’s The True Story of Zippy Chippy:  The Little Horse that Couldn’t to coincide with the  Kentucky Derby the following Saturday. Artie Bennett’s book was a perfect segue into the Kentucky Derby Party hosted by my daughter. Originally, it was for her colleagues, but it was postponed when COVID-19 changed the normalcy of our lives.

When the derby was moved to Labor Day Weekend, my daughter decided to have the party she had planned, keeping the invitees within her bubble. That meant her immediate family and Mimi and Poppy. That’s what my husband and I are called.

Enter the Derby Hall – Hats and Bow Ties of Your Choice

Even Doris Chose Her Hat

We usually stay one night when we visit, but because it was also Labor Day Weekend, we stayed three nights. It’s a good thing Ben Franklin wasn’t there to remind us that “fish and visitors stink after three days.”

We didn’t stink like fish. It was more like Kentucky bourbon! Almost every recipe had bourbon in it. We had a wonderful weekend filled with fun and food all planned and made by my daughter with a little help from my granddaughters and me. Derby Day was fabulous! It was a perfect day to relax and escape the worries the world has handed us.

Food for All

A recent birthday made me another year older. 2020 has not been my most favorite year, but I am thankful for my family bubble and our Zoom meetings with other family and friends spread across the country. I hope that a viable vaccine is found soon for everyone’s sake. My wish is that we all learn to live, love, and support one another and make our race to the finish line a success!


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